Friday, January 14, 2011

Do Magazines Count?

If glossy, advertisement-heavy fashion and home improvement magazines counted as reading, then maybe, maybe I got at least semi-close to reading 100 books in the year 2010.

Somehow though, I can't quite give myself permission to discuss in depth any of the dog-eared, half-flipped through issues of Lucky, ReadyMade, and Phoenix Home & Garden that currently litter most available surfaces in my home. I can however, reflect on what entertaining and informative literature I did manage to consume, and share with you some of the interesting things I learned about books and myself along the way.

At the beginning of 2010, I was gravely under-employed, working only about 20 hours a week at Starbucks. At that time, reading roughly two books a week was do-able. Not easy, but much like I imagine training for a marathon would be. While many may argue that due to my hours-to-income ratio I'm STILL under-employed, the fact remains that pretty early in 2010, when I became responsible for 70+ work hours a week, I had to accept that I probably wouldn't end up reading 100 books in a year. Still, it was fun to talk about, to tell other people about this great goal, to be encouraged by their reactions, and gather up recommendations. It was this way that I learned about, a Facebook of sorts for the reading-inclined where you can record and rate the books you own or have read, swap books with others of similar tastes, follow the blog posts of authors you admire, and pick out the perfect gift for your friends who are using the "wishlist" option. It is also how I ended up on a book sharing chain-letter. I think I sent The Tortilla Curtain to some unknown person in Phoenix, and received a copy of Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko from someone I actually know from Michigan! Small world. It seemed that every where I looked, there was a book with a story (pun intended!) - from the young adult novel Summer of My German Soldier that I found abandoned on a park bench to Gorgeous Disaster: The Tragic Story of Debra Lafave - found in the clearance bin at The Dollar Store! (Seriously, what exactly makes a book material for THAT KIND of discount?!)

However it was that I came upon a new book I found myself crafting the blogpost in my head the second I picked it up...which means that I like the story behind the story maybe more than the reading itself. Hmm.

I also realized just how many books I start and then put down. Today, there are eleven books on my Goodreads "currently reading" list. Many of these I'll have to start from the beginning again, and this list doesn't even include a few in which I never made it past the prelude. Among the shock of how many stories I actually leave incomplete, I was also surprised at how few non-fiction books I actually read, compared to the number I've acquired and intend to read. The truth is, when I'm exhausted at the end of the day, I tend to pick up off the bedside table the tales I can get lost in - the fantasy worlds of beautifully crafted phrases and books that don't require much thought to digest. Maybe the ratio would've been different had I stayed out in the world at only 20 hours a week. I guess I'll find out around the ripe old age of retirement.

For fun, some statistics:

My favorite book was The Red Tent, my least favorite was The Cowgirl's Guide to Love, the most influential was Eat Pray Love, and if I had to recommend one book suitable for most adult readers it would be House of Sand and Fog.

Of the 15 books I started and finished in 2010...
...6 were found at thrift stores
...4 were adapted for films
...4 I gave 5 out of 5 stars to
...3 got only 1 out of 5 stars
...3 were read for my book club
...2 were gifts
...1 was purchased at Tour de Fat, the New Belgium Brewery Bikes and Beer Festival, and
...1 was stolen off the desk of a friend. (sssshhhh)

While the Year of 100 Books has come to an end, my love of reading has not, and so I'll keep reading and continue blogging at least until 100 books have been read.

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